Oil spill near a coral reef

Déversement pétrolier près d’un récif corallien

Photo: foreign Affairs – Australia
On 4 February 2019, the bulk carrier “MV Solomon Trader” ran aground in the region of the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific.

UNESCO is concerned about the impacts of a major spill of petroleum products that occurred near a coral reef inscribed on the prestigious world heritage List, in the region of the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific.

On 4 February 2019, the bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader has failed in the area when he handled the ore bauxite. Since then, the ship is 225 metres would have lost at least 75 tons of fuel oil in the vicinity of Rennell island, the only natural site of world heritage are also registered on the List of world heritage in danger.

Unable to restore the vessel afloat and in the face of a black tide that spreads in the sector, the government of the Solomon Islands requested assistance from Australia in an attempt to contain the pollution, according to what was announced on Sunday by the australian authorities, quoted by Agence France-Presse.

A gesture hailed by the UNESCO, which deemed the spill ” concern “, in a press release published on Monday. “Although the oil spill and the grounding occurred just outside the world heritage property, a possible impact on the world heritage site and on the livelihoods of the local communities concerned,” noted the un agency.

Its representatives work so ” with the national authorities to assess the situation and identify the best mitigation measures to take.”

UNESCO has also called for the responsibility of the involved companies, including a mining company in the Solomon Islands and a company in Hong Kong theoretically owner of the vessel. “It is of the utmost importance that any damage caused to the world heritage property and to the livelihoods of the local communities is fully covered by the company, the owners and the insurers responsible “, said the director of the world heritage Centre of UNESCO, Mechtild Rössler.

A site of natural importance

East Rennell has been inscribed on the world heritage List in 1998. Considered as the largest raised coral atoll in the world, it includes the lake Tegano, a brackish lake, dotted with many limestone islets, robust, represents the former lagoon of the atoll, a forest cover intact and a marine area extending three nautical miles.

This is the “first natural site inscribed on the world heritage List, including the ownership and management are governed by the custom” of the local population, stressed on Monday the UNESCO.

East Rennell has been inscribed on the List of world heritage in danger in 2013, ” because of the threats on the outstanding universal value of the commercial exploitation of its forests and the uncontrolled invasion of rats. The site also suffers from the over-exploitation of its marine resources, of which we know little at the present time, ” said the un agency.

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